An Interactive Sports Experience

Tuukka Rask Banishes Memories of Tim Thomas

Tuukka Rask Banishes Memories of Tim Thomas

Jun 19, 2013

Tuukka Rask was there for the 2011 Stanley Cup run. He sat on the bench and watched as then team mate and still good friend Tim Thomas took the city of Boston and the rest of the NHL by storm. Few players have the personality of Thomas and his remarkable performance posting 16-9-4 record, .940 save percentage and 2.14 GAA with four shutouts during the Bruins’ run to the 2011 Stanley Cup triumph will remain one of the greatest achievements in Boston sports’ history.

Rask was there for that run. He was the future goaltender in waiting. This season after Thomas and the Bruins had a fall out of sorts; Rask got his chance to be the team’s undisputed #1 starting goaltender. A .929 save percentage and 2.00 GAA in the regular season didn’t disappoint. However, the 26-year old has been saving by far his best work for the postseason.

Through 19 playoff games Rask has posted a 14-5-2 record, .946 save percentage and 1.64 GAA along with three shutouts. His display has been absolutely mind-numbingly good. The 2013 NHL playoffs haven’t diminished Thomas’ legacy, but they may well represent the beginning of Rask’s legacy.

Games 2 and 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals could hardly have been a better representation of just how good Rask has gotten. In Game 3 in Boston he was infrequently tested and the Bruins expertly executed the team’s system keeping most of the shots harmlessly to the outside. Still, Rask had to stay sharp and he did. Not only that, but his rebound control was immaculate. It was obvious that Boston felt comfortable playing a patient offensive game believing that Rask would not let them down.

Game 2, the early turning point of the series was a very different matter. Chicago burst out of the gate in the first period peppering the Bruins’ net with 18 shots. Rask had to be outstanding in that first period and it was a near miracle that he kept his team in the game restricting the Blackhawks to just one goal. Boston could have easily fallen behind in that period and Chicago would have had the chance to cruise to a 2-0 series lead. Rask didn’t allow it. Now the Bruins prepare for a Game 4 on home ice with a 2-1 lead knowing that they can take a stranglehold of the series and near their second Stanley Cup triumph in three years.

Rask has been slower to grab the headlines than Thomas. There was always something in Thomas’ personality and the way in which he played the game that attracted the media. In many ways Rask is the complete opposite. He makes extremely difficult saves look very easy. His success in net relies on an excellent understanding of the game and sharp positioning. It’s harder for the casual fan to appreciate that compared with the wild sprawling that characterized Thomas and his game.

Still, Rask is finally earning his plaudits. Two games is a lot of games to win in the Stanley Cup Final, but it will feel well within his reach right now. The city of Boston senses the chance for a second triumph in three years, but the hero in 2013 is a very different player and very different person compared with two years ago.


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